Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The importance of air reconnaissance to Malta
For Malta-based strike forces to be effective, they relied upon aerial reconnaissance. In January, there were No.228 Squadron with 5 Sunderlands and No.69 Squadron with 4 Martin Marylands (at first just called "Glenn Martins"). By later in March, the situation had deteriorated to the point that the Sunderlands were too vulnerable, so they were withdrawn to Egypt. The demands for reconnaissance were more than the small number of Marylands could provide. The peak in strength was 7 aircraft, and usually there were fewer. To improve the situation, No.39 Squadron at Mersa Matruh was used to cover the southern part of the search area. By May, three more Marylands had arrived to reinforce No.69 Squadron, and some camera-equipped Hurricanes were improvised. The combination of moves enabled the air reconnaissance report more targets "than the striking force could deal with". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.